Archives For russia

Kolya Krasotkin Wept

“. . . when the children guitared
At my footbed,
Kolya Krosotkins
of my railroad”i

Kolya Krasotkin, that little son of a provincial secretaryii
Studied the trains
And for two roubles
Flattened himself on the railroad tracks face down
And let the eleven o’clock train pass over him (without touching his small body)
He fainted (confessed only to Mama) and turned white as snow
On that black moonless Russian night
Forever a hero to the other schoolboys
Desperado in rank
For his mad wild pranks
Ilyusha’s papa’s red beard
Dragged from tavern to square
On that terrible whiskbroom day
The sickly boy’s spirit rose
Defending poor Papa
Stones hurled and flew
Alyosha struck and bitten, too
Met the captain, sir, much ado
Shaggy Perezvon renamed
One-eyed tricks, gray Zhuchka dog stay
The boy’s mind tick, tock, ticks
The goosey goose cracked . . . in the peasant market place
A clever boy, intelligent, big-shot brave boy
Fourteen years old (in two weeks)
A socialist and atheist, too
A reader of Voltaire and books
Onegin knows he
Mathematics and world history
Old man, you see,
I’ve come to love thee
And visit your deathbed
Icons, cannon smoke
Karamazov spoke at the stone
The children raised up the little coffin
Bringing bread for the sparrows
So he lay not alone Flowers
Candles
Farewell sad little boots
All the boys cried
Kolya wept
If we could resurrect our boy
Grief . . . and pancakes

i Kerouac, Jack. Mexico City Blues, 55th
Chorus. (New York: Grove Press, 1994). p. 55.
ii Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. (New York: Vintage Classics, 1991).

The Brothers Karamazov and Me

“When I was in the hospital
I had a big fat nurse
Who kept looking over my shoulder
At the book I was reading,
‘The Brothers Karamazov,’
By Gambling Man Fyodor
Dostoevsky
Of Czarist Russia, a Saint . . .” i

I am married to a husband called Gregory
Saint Gregory of the Pines
We live in a dacha
under the conifers deep in the frozen forest
of suburban North Jersey
Every winter gentle Gregorius
gets an armload of Russian novels
Dostoevsky and Dostoevsky and Dostoevsky
and settles down in the chair
and reads
You see, Gregorivich is better than me
A disciplined monk (and a hunk)
and I have met my match
my white whale
I am the old man and the sea
and this marlin is drowning me
His name is Karamazov
Make that Karamazov three
and these brother are driving me mad
Driving me to profligate drink
and ruining my Zosima think
Alyosha, I’m ready to bail out
on page 415
with almost four hundred more pages to go
You see, I have work to do
and other books to read, that are piling up in piles of three
But the Ks are slowing me down
and making me frown
I have chickens to roast
Pignoli nuts to toast
Onions to rake and mushrooms to bake
Floors need birch broom sweepings
Samovars polishing and tea drinking
Icons to venerate
Martyrs to imitate
Incense to censer
Paintings to contemplate (by Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy)
Devils to beat (“. . . behind the door, a real beefy one, a yard and a half tall or more, with a thick tail, brown, long . . . ” ii)
and deadlines to meet
And I can’t do anything
because I’m stuck on page 415

i Kerouac, Jack. Mexico City Blues, 55th Chorus. (New York: Grove Press, 1994). p. 55.
ii Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. (New York: Vintage Classics, 1991). p. 169.

A Gentle Creature

A gentle creature
A slender young woman, fifteen years and nine months
With very large eyes
An orphan who lives with two aunts, mean
They beat and treat her as a slave, and begrudge her daily bread
She has one option: marry a (two wives in the grave) fifty-year-old shopkeeper and mother his children . . .
She tries to get a job . . . but can’t
The pawnbroker proposes
He’s the lesser evil than the fat and watchful shopkeeper
She takes a long time to consider Mephistopheles introducing himself . . .
And marries him, she pawn, he broker (who quotes Goethe)
Pawnbroker is stern . . . and silent . . . and pours cold water upon her happiness
She stamps her foot at him
Aims a gun at his temple
And falls ill in winter
He pays for a doctor and a nurse
Winter passes
One sunny day, she sings
He kisses her feet . . . and she sobs
Plans of Boulogne to bathe in the sea
She thinks and smiles
Opens a window
Clutches icon of Madonna and Babe
And jumps
Nothing was crushed
Just a small spoon of blood
He claims to be only five minutes too late
So thin in her white coffin
“People are alone in the world.”

The short story “A Gentle Creature” was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1876.

White Nights

White nights
Young nights
Petersburg romantic lights
Ivanhoe and Norman knights
Rossini’s la-la lends delight
Two poor lovers . . . enter a third
Confess each other’s sorrowed souls
The loneliness of life
Illusions and dreams
Tears and despair
Grandmother pin those skirts so tight
Le notti bianche
Cinema Visconti
‘57 was the year
Marcello danced up in the air
Go
A moment of bliss
. . . for all of this

*
The short story “White Nights” was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1848, and has been the inspiration for many films in many languages. (Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs all greatly admired and were influenced by Dostoevsky.)

Visions of Winter… Russia… Cody

Hot chocolate . . . delicious
Blustery deep freeze winds
Cut through cruel canyons of Manhattan
Past Dostoevsky Christmas angels
Huddled in icy doorway
Snowfall and heavenly whirls and waltzes
And bare souls and mystic mad Rasputin
Listening to Tchaikovsky in snowy swirls
O, Robert, where art thou Frost?
Are we in St. Petersburg, Russia?
The littlest Romanov
Tender Alexei lambevich
And four sister lilies pure as pearls
Hothouse saints with flowers and ribboned hair
Donned jewel encrusted bodices
Shots rang out
Bullets bounced
Regicide
Murder most foul
Bayonets and pistols
Shrouds of bed sheets
Ghastly secret Siberian grave
Black and filthy July deed
Will take all the mountains of Ural snow
To cover royal blood
O, Holy Martyrs
Holy Mother of all the Russias
Great Orthodoxy! Passion bearers! Peter and Paul!
Who could write this Macbethian tragedy?
And the intense frozen sun continues to shine
On winter blue coats
And cherries in the snow
O, Cody, brother of my youth
Found cold and by the tracks

Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Cody. (New York: Penguin Books, 1993).